On IP Month, Legarda Opens ASEAN Textile Exhibit, Sponsors Ethnic Origin Bill

October 22, 2014

In celebration of the Indigenous Peoples Month this October, Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, has set up an exhibit on ASEAN textiles and will sponsor the proposed Ethnic Origin Act.


Legarda, in partnership with the Office of Senate President Franklin Drilon and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), will launch today the exhibit titled, Woven Identities: Clothing Traditions of ASEAN, displayed at the Second Floor Hallway of the Senate.


“This exhibit showcases traditional garments from ASEAN member-countries and aims not only to reveal the remarkable artistry and unique culture of each nation but also to show what we have in common, to find unity amidst diversity,” said Legarda.


Exhibit curator, Charisse Aquino-Tugade, explained that a wrap-around skirt is a common garment among Southeast Asians, but the way the fabric is knotted or folded could reveal the wearer’s origin or beliefs. It could be knotted into a malongin the Philippines, twisted into a pantaloon or Sampot in Cambodia, or folded into a Sarong in Indonesia.


The ASEAN textile exhibit is displayed beside another exhibit of Tugade, Philippine Indigenous Patterns and Forms, which presents several weaving techniques used by traditional weavers in the modern setting.


Meanwhile, Legarda will also sponsor today the proposed Ethnic Origin Act, which defines ethnicity and indigenous peoples or indigenous cultural communities (ICCs). The definition under the measure shall be the basis for gathering data on ethnic origin.


“The opportunities, privileges and rights embodied in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and in other legal instruments, have yet to be fully accorded to our IPs several years after the law was enacted. To be able to carry out our commitments to them, our government must have an adequate understanding of our IPs and ICCs and be sensitive and responsive to their needs. An entry point to this is having a good grasp of population data based on ethnicity,” she explained.


“The population data on ICCs and IPs vary depending on the group handling the research or using the data. The Episcopal Commission on Tribal Filipinos (ECTF) estimates our IP/ICC population to be between 6.5 and 7.5 million, while the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates it to between 12 and 15 million. This reality compels us even more to obtain the accurate data,” she added.


Legarda also said that apart from having data on ICCs and IPs population, there is a need to have a system or set of relational database to come up with timely, accurate and useful statistics on the ICCs and IPs. Such information will contribute to the effective implementation of the IPRA.


Under the Ethnic Origin Act, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), in coordination with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), will employ enumerators or deploy NCIP employees in gathering data on Ethnic Origin during the conduct of the national survey and national census.


The NCIP will ensure that these enumerators will have adequate knowledge of the different IPs and ICCs in their area and should also know the proper manner of asking culturally-sensitive questions.


“Being counted gives one an opportunity to be heard. Being counted with one’s cultural community, gives our indigenous peoples not only the opportunity to be heard but also paves the way towards development—one that ensures that they are included in the process, their rights are respected, and they are responsible as well. With these considerations, I hope the Senate will soon approve the Ethnic Origin Bill,” Legarda concluded.